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The Period Place Teams Up With The New Zealand Food Network To Combat Period Poverty

Visionwest, Fair Food, Salvation Army, South Auckland Christian Food Bank, The Period Place reps at NZFN | PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Aotearoa’s largest menstrual health charity The Period Place has teamed up with the New Zealand Food Network (NZFN) to provide millions of donated period products nationwide.

Danika Revell, CEO, The Period Place says she’d bet her last tampon that a significant number of the 630,000 people NZFN’s partner Food Hubs support monthly with food also need monthly support to access period products.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the data we collected in 2020 which showed 70,000 Kiwis were experiencing extreme period poverty has been blown out of the water by COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis,” she says.

"We’ve been too busy trying to get period products around the country to communities screaming for them to gather new data, but even just looking at the significant increase in demand for food support it’s clear the need for period products would have also risen. What isn’t widely understood is that when these products aren’t available to people when they need them, then they end up missing out on school, work and other important activities.”

The Period Place receives donations of disposable and reusable period products through a combination of grants, donations and corporate partnerships. They have teamed up with NZFN in a partnership that allows both organisations to focus on their strengths.

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“This is a bloody brilliant partnership that lets NZFN focus on getting people the everyday things they need like food and period products and lets us focus on getting more partners to increase donations and to start collecting data for our State of Menstrual Health in Aotearoa Report, due in 2025.”

The first project in the partnership has seen the organisations distribute over $50,000 of reusable period products and underwear. That’s 955 items donated to The Period Place from their long-term partner Modibodi - a global leader in sustainable and reusable period underwear.

NZFN, Food Hub Account Manager, Courtney Clark, explains how they receive requests for essential items, including menstrual products, from their Food Hubs as demand for support continues to rise.

“These are trying times for many Kiwi families; just as people struggle to put food on the table, affording household essentials like cleaning products and hygiene products is also proving difficult. Things like dishwashing liquid, shampoo and deodorant are highly sought items but recipients may feel embarrassed to ask for menstrual products.”

“By partnering with The Period Place, we hope to destigmatise access to period products and by utilising our established nationwide distribution network we hope The Period Place can focus more on their education and advocacy work in the community.”

NZFN and The Period Place held a session with recipient Food Hubs to sort the donated Modibodi period underwear. Food Hub team members were educated on the products and how to reduce stigma around discussing menstrual products so they can provide the products in their communities confidently.

One of the attendees was Nicci Eaglestone, Food Security Manager at the Salvation Army.

“We get a lot of young mums and young women experiencing extreme financial hardship coming in, and period products are one of the last things they think to buy - they’d rather feed their families. It’s also very difficult when you’re trying to do what’s best for the environment but may not be able to afford it. And it’s not something you can just look at next month, it’s a now problem,” she says.

“There’s still a bit of a stigma where people don’t talk about it or feel embarrassed to ask for period products so the donations really help. We’re going to have some things to take back to the [recipient] centres and encourage those families to have those conversations with the young girls and teenagers in their lives,” she adds.

Revell says, "While reusable products offer significant benefits for sustainably managing periods, the financial barrier is too high for many and there is a vulnerability when switching to a relatively new product on the market that they’ve never tried before. The Hub teams had lots of questions, like how many pairs of underwear to use during a cycle and how they can help anyone who asks them further questions - you can see they really care and wanted to learn all they could before going back to their communities to continue supporting them.”

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